With one record broken; Falcons go after another

By: Lance Manion
   The goal was written on their T-shirts and on their sneakers. It was routinely shouted in practice and written in bold print inside the locker room.
   Whenever the Monroe High School boys basketball team did a rigorous practice drill, coach Bob Turco would be somewhere in the gym shouting, "Seventeen!"
   That was the number it would take to set a school record for wins in a season.
   So what will the Falcons do now that they’ve surpassed the magic number 17 wins? It’s simple.
   They shoot for a new school record.
   "Seventeen was on our minds since Day One, but we’ve started to re-evaluate our goals," Turco said following Monroe’s 75-52 win over Woodbridge Tuesday, a game that improved the Falcons to 18-3 overall and eclipsed the program’s all-time mark for wins set four years ago.
   "We did some research and found out that 20 wins is the most any Monroe team has won in school history," added Turco, referring to the Falcons’ boys soccer team’s feat last season.
   A.J. Rudowitz scored 16 points and tallied 11 rebounds and three blocks in only three quarters of action as the Falcons turned in their most complete win of the season over Woodbridge in the Greater Middlesex Conference White Division affair. Colin Horsch contributed all 14 of his points in the first half, when Monroe opened a 37-21 lead.
   "Teams have been double-, triple-teaming A.J. all season so that’s left everybody else open," said Turco, whose team got contributions from Mark Gulick (11 points), Kyle Horsch (9) and Justin Mitchell (7) in the win. "Everybody’s got the green light. I gotta be the only coach in America that yells at my players when they don’t shoot."
   What was most encouraging to Turco was the fact that Rudowitz, one of Middlesex County’s leading scorers at 21.7 ppg., only seven points at intermission but his team still led by 16.
   "In past years," Rudowitz said, "we really struggled to get points if I wasn’t scoring, but as you see I can have an off night and other guys are there to pick us up."
   Rudowitz is among the seniors who played on the Falcons’ 0-20 campaign three years ago. The 6-foot-6 senior forward was surprised as anyone when Turco took the job last May and immediately set 17 wins as the goal.
   "We had won something like 12 games the last three years combined," Rudowitz said, "so I don’t think anyone believed him back then.
   "But once we saw how hard he was working for us, we started believing."
   Monroe earned win No. 17 on Feb. 3 with a 59-50 victory over South Plainfield. Rudowitz poured in a game-high 21 points, while Kyle Horsch chipped in with 10 in the win.
   "Our goal was 17 wins, but I figured we’d get it sometime in the GMC Tournament," Rudowitz said. "I never thought we’d do it in the regular season."